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Teachers strike: Disruptive week for elementary, high school students

Last Updated Jan 21, 2020 at 8:31 am EST

Striking teachers of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation picket outside of the Toronto District School Board head office on Yonge Stree in Toronto. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

It will be a disruptive week for students and parents as both elementary and secondary school teachers stage several one-day strikes across the province affecting various school boards every day this week.

First up is the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario who will stage walkouts at York Region, Toronto and Ottawa-Carleton boards on Monday.

Tuesday will be the busiest day in terms of labour disruption with elementary schools in Grand Erie, Trillium Lakelands, Renfrew and Superior-Greenstone boards being targeted.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation is also set to stage a walkout on Tuesday which will affect nine provincial school boards including the biggest one, Toronto District School Board.

OSSTF President Harvey Bischof says this will be the last full withdrawal of services by OSSTF/FEESO members until after the “crucial exam period.”

Ontario’s English Catholic teachers also plan to hold one-day strikes on Tuesday which will affect both elementary and secondary schools.

Elementary teachers at Thames Valley, Rainbow and Rainy River school boards will strike on Wednesday and at Avon-Maitland, Halton, Niagara and Lakehead on Thursday before closing the week out with job action at the Ontario North East and Bluewater school boards on Friday.

ETFO President Sam Hammond has said the main issues in bargaining include classroom size, more resources for students with special needs, protection of their kindergarten program and fair compensation.

“(Education Minister Stephen) Lecce seems prepared to let his government’s damaging cuts to public education proceed instead of taking a responsible approach at the bargaining table,” said Hammond in a press release Sunday, adding that the government hasn’t returned to the bargaining table since their last session on Dec. 19.

“We continue to urge the Minister to get back to the table to discuss the critical issues that parents and educators care about.”

Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced last week the Ford government would provide parents with children up to Grade 7 up to $60 a day for child care during teacher strikes.

FAQ: How to apply for $60 credit during Ontario teacher strikes

According to the government, more than 100,000 parents have signed up for their Support for Parents program. Leece said the compensation would be retroactive for “qualifying parents to cover costs already incurred due to labour disruptions that have occurred during the current 2019-20 labour negotiations.”

Lecce said that should all boards across the province go on strike on the same day, it would end up costing the province $48-million per day.

The strikes are just the latest development in escalating tensions between the four major teachers’ unions and the provincial government, who have been bargaining a new collective agreement since the beginning of September.

Only the union representing Ontario’s French school system has contract talks scheduled with the government.

ELEMENTARY & SECONDARY TEACHERS JOB ACTION CALENDAR

MONDAY, JAN 20
ETFO

  • Elementary Teachers of Toronto
  • York Region Teacher Local
  • Ottawa Carleton Teacher Local

 

TUESDAY, JAN 21
ETFO

  • Grand Erie Teacher Local
  • Trillium Lakelands Teacher Local
  • Renfrew County Teacher Local
  • Superior-Greenstone Teacher Local

 

OSSTF

  • Rainy River District School Board
  • Near North District School Board
  • Grand Erie District School Board
  • Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board
  • Toronto District School Board
  • Simcoe County District School Board
  • Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board
  • Trillium Lakelands District School Board
  • Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board

 

OECTA

  • Teachers in all publicly funded Catholic district school boards

 

WEDNESDAY, JAN 22
ETFO

  • Thames Valley Teacher Local
  • Rainbow Teacher Local
  • Rainy River District Teacher Local

 

THURSDAY, JAN 23
ETFO

  • Avon Maitland Teacher Local
  • Halton Teacher Local
  • Niagara Teacher Local
  • Lakehead Teacher Local

 

FRIDAY, JAN 24
ETFO

  • Bluewater Teacher Local
  • Ontario North East Teacher Local

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report